Undergraduate Research Explorer
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Value of Undergraduate Research at U of T

When faculty invite undergraduate students into…their research projects, they model how scholarship actually occurs and give students a chance to take ownership over various aspects of a research project and make connections that wouldn’t occur in classwork alone.

Leah Cowen

Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives

Why is undergraduate research important for student learning?

Reading week Engineering workshop at Myhal Lab (photo by Matt Volpe)

Engaging in research informs and heightens students’ understanding of themselves, their disciplinary field of study and future academic and career pathways. Moreover, perspectives learned from students’ engagement inform approaches to research and the classroom.

As a librarian, staff or faculty member, you so often lead this work by creating and organizing research experiences and supporting students in locating and navigating those experiences.


of U of T students participated in at least one high-impact teaching practice, according to a recent report by NSSE.

A High-Impact Teaching Practice

Indicators suggest that undergraduate research is perhaps the most impactful of the eleven high-impact teaching practices: participation in research has been shown to foster undergraduate student success and retention especially for those students from equity-deserving communities (Kuh, O’Donnell, Schneider, 2017). By participating in the research process, students take an active role in their learning experience: they integrate knowledge from multiple courses and co-curricular experiences as they apply what they’ve learned to create research-informed responses to questions.


of U of T Students indicated that they intend to pursue graduate or professional school according to a recent report by SERU.

Mentoring and Training Future Colleagues

You might consider undergraduate students your future colleagues. In a survey by the Student Experience at the Research University (SERU), 44.7 percent of undergraduate students reporting from the University of Toronto indicated that they intend to enrol in graduate or professional school following graduation (n= 3279). By engaging undergraduate students in research, you’re introducing students to your field as a possibility for graduate studies and contributing to the training and intellectual growth of future colleagues. Indeed, the opportunity to contribute to the training and mentoring of students is highly valued, to the extent that research funding agencies often assess grant applications with a focus on this criterion. For example, NSERC and SSHRC place emphasis on quality and impactful training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students as well as others. Learn more about funding opportunities here

There is a sense of accomplishment to see growth in our students: developing their knowledge as well as having intellectual breakthroughs in their thinking and how they’re approaching complex problems.

Susan McCahan

Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education

If you are interested in developing a curricular undergraduate research opportunity, you might connect with divisional support offices to learn about available resources and frameworks. You might also consider applying for a teaching and learning grant. For example, the Learning & Education Advancement Fund (LEAF) provides funding for curricular initiatives in first-entry undergraduate divisions with the aim to provide students with greater exposure to high-impact teaching practices.